Firefighters in Staffordshire are urging members of the public to join them when they lobby the fire authority meeting on 16 February to urge them to “forget party politics and do what is right for the safety of people who live in the region”.
Current plans would see spending on Staffordshire’s fire and rescue service reduced by Â£1.7 million over the next 12 months, and cut by a massive Â£5.7million over the next five years.
This would mean a drastic reduction in the number of firefighters in the area and our traditional fire engines being replaced by new smaller vehicles that will be far less able to respond to emergencies. The inevitable result is longer response times to 999 calls and greater risks to local people.
Campaigners point out that these â€œdrastic and irresponsible” front line cuts could be halted by a minimal increase in council tax funding of 2.5p a week. They have been encouraged by support for the measure from the chair of the Staffordshire fire authority, Councillor Len Bloomer.
Rich Williams, brigade secretary of the FBU in Staffordshire, said: â€œIn the next round of cuts we stand to lose another 30 whole-time firefighter posts and a reduction of Â£1.7millionÂ in funding. If the council voted for an increase of a mere Â£1.32 a year, the Â£420,000 this would generate would be enough to maintain current levels of emergency cover for the county.
â€œCouncil tax has been frozen for the past four years and the effect has been to lower funding for the fire and rescue service. If we add to this the budget cuts demanded by central government, the service will be devastated.
â€œThe measures would put the lives of both the public and firefighters in Staffordshire at risk.”
The fire authorityâ€™s strategy and resources committee recognised the gravity of these cuts at its 19 January meeting when it voted 8 to 3 in favour of implementing these small increases in council tax to preserve an efficient emergency service.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union will be lobbying the full fire authority when a final decision is made at its meeting at the authority’s headquarters at Pirehill, Stone, ST14 0BS atÂ 14:00hrs on 16 February. They urge members of the public to join them to call for “a safer Staffordshire”.
Rich Williams says: â€œIt’s high time councillors put public safety before party politics. Cuts are a choice that none of us want. We urge the fire authority to agree the recommendation from the strategy and resources committee.â€
The post Public safety before party politics: Staffordshire firefighters urge councillors to do the right thing on 16 February appeared first on Fire Brigades Union.